5 reasons why SCADA systems get a failing grade

What is wrong with SCADA? For starters, it’s stuck in the last century

· 3AG blog

In our discussions with general managers, industrial engineers and continuous improvement managers, we encounter a common refrain: supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems are not easy to use. Why is this the case, and what can be done to improve the central nervous system for the factory floor?

Here are some of the key issues with many of today’s SCADA systems:

  • SCADA is 20th century technology in the 21st century
  • SCADA systems typically mimic the physical plant layout
  • SCADA systems are expensive to update
  • SCADA systems are not easily upgradeable
  • SCADA systems just report data, not insight

Let’s unpack these issues and consider what it would take to move beyond them.

SCADA is 20th century technology in the 21st century

To be fair, SCADA is incredible technology that has enabled companies to get real-time insight to their operations. This is what someone would have said in 1985. That’s right, 1985! The problem is that most SCADA systems haven’t kept up with the pace of change in IT.

Old Soviet control room

In fact, when one looks at a today’s typical SCADA control room, it’s hard to see any real innovation in user experience compared to the control rooms of the previous century. Yes, the dials, buttons and other components fixed on walls are now digi